He Who Weaves the Song Together

This is an emulation of the poet Christopher Logue's translations of the Iliad. It includes references to Shakespeare, the movie Gallipoli, and the original Iliad (translated by Lattimore).

Feet hammering hard on sand.
Thick heels sinking in, slowing his gait.
The head, planted on the stocky neck, droops
As hands push back the animal-hide flap.

“Son of Peleus,” To Achilles.
The warlike hero turns, and
As eye meets eye the voice dies

But it is used. 

“He is dead.”Ears stop hearing.
“A hero’s death, though, to the end. Hector…”
 White noise.

Slow exit. A statue of a king dethroned, he quakes,
Ropes round motionless ankles, marble muscles crack,
Then shatter, raising dirt.

Soundless around him, a million voiceless screams.
They stab his writhing body like spears. You know nothing,
Nothing of pain. Not like him. Tufts of hair in his massive hands,
Redcurrant hair mixed with saltwater and the smell of grief.

Lying in the dust,
The tears carving into his face,
Eyes seeing nothing around him, only Patroclus,
Clawed at, chewed up,

Listening below the bolts of grey sea,
Beautiful Thetis. Weeping for her weeping son.

Lavender fills the nose of her wailing child.
“Why, dear Achilles,” she whispers, by his side.
“Why do you cry?” Nymph fingers glide over strands of brown.

“Patroclus—” he collapses against her knee. Hot, angry rain falls on her skin. Tears until nightfall. “They killed him. Patroclus. He was—he,”
Through hacking, wrenching sobs:
“He took my armour,
Put it on, fooling the Trojans.
And I let him go! He let it reach him,
Eat at his brain, that sweet decay of killing.
I let him go.” His own fists hammering at his body. Reaching for the dagger.

Not unless Hector
That rodent son
Of dribbling Priam,
has his head ripped from his neck,
I’ll tear the sinews clean off.
His family won’t recognize him.
That brat Andromache will weep,
And decrepit Priam will scar his folded face
With tears.”

“But, child, if you are the one to kill him, they will kill you.”

Then let me die!
I cannot bring back Patroclus. 

No, no, he is dead. Go to thy deathbead.
He will never come again.

“No man escapes the fixèd gaze of sullen Death.” 

Thetis looked at her son, his face, his strong shoulders.
Too weak.
“Wait my dear, stay by the beach.
I’ll go to Hephaestus, that lord of fire,
And tell him to forge my son
The finest armour in the Ilium.” Cool lips to warm forehead, and silverfoot Thetis slid away.


The End

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